Pop quiz: What’s the biggest source of salt in the American diet?
- 4.Cold cuts
This may surprise you. The answer is #3 bread. Yes, that’s right. I got it straight from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has a cool graphic on its website giving you the skinny on salt. It’s a shocker. Take a look!
Here are the basics: 90 percent of us take in too much sodium; 44 percent of the sodium we consume comes from just 10 foods; cutting our sodium intake to 1,200 mg per day (we currently ingest about 3,300 mg) would save $20 billion a year in medical costs.
People, if you take a look at the foods listed in my pop quiz, you may be surprised to learn that all of them are among the 10 top sources of sodium (cheeseburgers may give you a double-whammy because you’ve got cheese plus the roll).
Aren’t you glad you gave up bread and cheese for the Brain Warrior’s Way Meal Plan or the Omni Diet? Here’s something else you should know about salt: 65 percent of the amount Americans consume every day comes from fast foods and processed foods; another 25 percent comes from restaurant foods. As a health conscious consumer you may have been avoiding fast foods and processed foods even before you decided on the Brain Warrior’s Way Meal Plan or the Omni Diet. And I hope you’re being selective about restaurants and patronizing those that help you eat the Omni or Brain Warrior way. One more salt statistic that should make you feel good: according to the CDC only 6 percent of the salt in the average American diet is what you add to your food at the table. If that’s all you were ingesting, relax, you probably don’t have to cut back. But let’s face that ominous number: 90 percent of Americans take in way too much salt.
How Bad Is It?
As I explain in my book The Omni Diet, excess salt in the diet can lead to stiff blood vessels, which ultimately reduces blood flow. The extra salt also increases oxidative stress, which can lead to a number of diseases.
And we all know that too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Another thing you may not have considered: salt hijacks your taste buds covering up delicious natural flavors. The Omni Diet steers you toward healthy, organic, fresh vegetables. I promise you they’ll taste better without salt.
You can punch up salads naturally by tossing in chopped fresh herbs like basil, chives and cilantro. You can simmer herbs and spices into soups, stews, and chili and sprinkle fresh herbs over grilled meat and fish. Without the salt, you’ll focus on the amazing flavor your food and these herbs provide.
And don’t forget garlic: technically a vegetable, it flavors like an herb. Beyond that it’s good for you: eating garlic regularly can help lower the risk of strokes, improve heart health, and boost the immune system’s ability to fight off colds and flu.
I you must use salt, try unbleached sea salt or some other salt that hasn’t had its minerals removed. But do try to use as little as possible. Aim to limit your daily intake to less than 1,500 milligrams. You can also try using a potassium-based salt substitute. Supplementing with about 5 grams of potassium daily and reducing sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day can improve vascular function, kidney function and insulin sensitivity and decrease blood pressure, oxidative stress and inflammation.
Promise me you’ll try to cut way back on salt. In return, I promise that you’ll soon wonder why you disguised the fabulous natural flavor of good food with salt. For more health tips, brain games, and healthy recipes join Brain Fit Life today!